story by Michele Toberer Dale Davies has been blessed to live a life centered around horses and rodeo. Growing up in Fort Collins, Colorado as […]
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Meet the Member Patty Harrison
story by Lily Weinacht
Patty Harrison is the 2015 GCPRA Barrel Racing Champion, a title which the 59 year old from Golden Valley, Ariz., won at the finals in November by $49. It was Patty’s first year competing in the GCPRA finals, and initially, she had set her goal on finishing in the top 15 for the year. “Winning the saddle at the end of the year was just amazing for me!” she says. “You go along all year competing in these rodeos not knowing if you’ll be competitive enough, and then to win the end of the year was a nice surprise!”
Patty grew up chasing cattle on her family’s ranch in Oklahoma, but chasing cans was what she dreamed of doing. Instead, she went to college on a basketball scholarship and entered the U.S. Air Force, where she served for four and a half years after graduating. “I was married to a military member and we were overseas for another 15 years, but when I came back from Japan in 1995, I wanted to get a barrel horse,” Patty recalls. She started competing in the NBHA and NSPRA before joining the GCPRA in 2014, after recovering from the broken collarbone she sustained from a barrel racing accident the year before.
In addition to making her first trip to the GCPRA finals, Patty added another first to her rodeo résumé when she qualified for the semi-finals of RFD-TV’s The American. Her plan was to run in the barrel racing qualifier held in Glen Rose, Texas, since her horse, Rusty, does better in smaller pens. But when she missed the sign in, she decided to go ahead and run in Buckeye, Ariz. “Buckeye has a big standard pattern, and we usually get beat on the run home, but I asked Rusty to give his best and he ran a 17.1. We finished fourth, and afterward, I sat in my trailer taking in what this horse has done for me!” says Patty.
Rusty stands at just 14 hands, but he comes with a heart the size of Arizona. When Patty bought him three years ago, he was still figuring out the pattern, but the pair found their stride quickly, winning reserve champion in the 1D of the NBHA Super Show in 2015. That same year, they also won the GCPRA rodeos in Globe, Apache Junction, and Marana, before Patty gave Rusty several months off and ran a filly she’s started seasoning. She also has two other mares she’s training.
“Nobody in my family has ever rodeoed or barrel raced, but there are a couple of ladies my age in Las Vegas that I really look up to,” says Patty. “Kathy Montano and Mary Seevers Scott really motivated me and showed me the ropes when I was starting out. I also owe a lot to the endless hours of coaching I received from my friend, Cindy Carter.”
When she’s not barrel racing, Patty is coaching others in the event, giving lessons to several girls in the area. “When I’m on the road, my boyfriend, Jerry, stays back to take care of things,” she explains. “My biggest supporter is Jerry’s mother, Margie. She’s my adopted mother now, and she comes to as many races as possible. I’m also thankful for my sponsors – Formula 1, which keeps Rusty going, and Bruce Childress with Hitchin Post Trailer Sales in Las Vegas, Nev. I bought my trailer from him 15 years ago, and he helped me get to The American by completely going through my trailer and fixing anything that needed attention.
“This year, my goal is to keep competing in the Grand Canyon and expose my filly to more of their rodeos,” Patty finishes. “I’m also interested in doing some PRCA rodeos, but I’m happy to keep doing what I’m doing and enjoying life!”